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Expressions/Gestures

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Vitali
156436.  Wed Mar 14, 2007 7:47 am Reply with quote

European


While many Europeans are fond of gesticulating (Italians especially), one has to be very careful using any gestures.
No single aspect of communication seems to have such diverse meanings and interpretations across different cultures. With a few exceptions, polite—or at least innocuous—words in one language rarely just happen to translate into something unimaginably offensive in another. Gestures, however, are another matter entirely.
The two-fingered "V" for victory symbol is fine palms-out. If you make it with you palm facing toward you, you'll offend any Brit—it's their version of "giving someone the finger."
The thumb-and-forefinger-circle that means "OK!" to you means "Up yours!" or "You're an asshole!" in some cultures (especially when held upside down).
Never, ever hold out just your forefinger and pinkie raised to make "horns" (or the "I love you" gesture from sign language). Depending on how you hold your hand and where you are, you're either casting the Evil Eye on someone, warding against it (which insults the people around you, implying that they are casting one), or calling someone a cuckold.
In most cases, of course, your gestures won't mistakenly be offensive; they'll simply be misconstrued.
When holding up their fingers to count, most Europeans start with the thumb for "one." Holding up just your forefinger means "wait a sec" in most countries. You may be trying to order one beer; they'll think you aren't ready yet.
A southern European gesturing "come here" looks like they're shooing you away. People waving good-bye in Europe hold their hand out, palm facing up, and repeatedly slap all four fingers as a group toward themselves; to an American, that means "come here."
A nod that is an affirmative (yes) gesture in most cultures denotes negation (no) in Bulgaria and some parts of Greece. By the same token, shaking one's head means "yes" in the latter.
A typically Italian bacciare (“yummy!”) gesture is performed by touching one's thumbs with an index finger and straightening the remaining three. It is similar to the Jewish "Cymes" which originally denoted traditional Jewish delicacy of carrots, plums and honey boiled together and added to food as a dressing, but in the course of time it came to mean anything delicious.

Body Language

Proximity is a relative thing. In northern Europe, especially England, people require a larger sphere of personal space than most Americans do and are rather adverse to physical contact. Dear old friends will rarely greet one another with anything more than a firm handshake and warm smile.
When you get to Sicily, though, total strangers will be throwing their arms around you and greeting you with a wet kiss on each cheek.
Of course, those are both stereotypes, but ones that often hold true.
The farther south you go, the more people touch. Manly, macho Mediterranean men will often link elbows and walk arm-in-arm with each another down the streets. Teenage boys, oozing hormones and unnecessary aftershave, will zoom up on their scooters and greet their pals with that double cheek peck so beloved of Hollywood types. They probably aren't gay, effeminate, or even metrosexual. (In fact, most Mediterranean men are about as heterosexual as is humanly possible; their blood is 90% testosterone.) That’s just the way their culture is. Men touch.
As always, be observant and let the locals be your guide as to how to act, when to be politely standoffish, when it's acceptable to sling an arm around someone's shoulders and plant a big, wet, frencher on them (note: only if you know them very well, or are very, very drunk).
Source: “Foreign Bodies. A Guide to European Mannerisms” By Peter Collett, Simon & Schsuter, 1993
plus own obersvations

And here are some Asian, American and other mannerisms as listed on http://www.intranet.csupomona.edu

Asian Gestures

GREETINGS GESTURES
§ Handshaking
§ Bowing
§ Avoid direct eye contact

BEKONING GESTURES
§ To beckon someone, the palm faces downward and the fingers are moved in a scratching motion.
§ Avoid using fingers in pointing to an object.

TOUCHING GESTURES
§ Not touch oriented societies
§ Avoid public display of affection
§ Pushing (bumping) in crowds
§ OTHER NON VERBAL GESTURES
§ Respect to elderly people
§ Smiling often can cover a gamut of emotions: happiness, anger, confusion, apologies, or sadness.
§ Displaying an open mouth (such as yawning or a wide-open laugh) is considered rude, especially with women who cover their mouths when giggling or laughing.
§ Try to maintain a balanced posture, stand or sit erectly or squarely. Don't slouch or put on the ground with arms in the lap or on the armrest. Crossing the legs at the knees or ankles is the preferred form rather than with one ankle over the other knee.
§ Silence (listening) is a sign of politeness and of contemplation. During conversations, be especially careful about interrupting.

China

GREETINGS GESTURES
§ The western custom of shaking hands is the customary form of greeting, but often s nod of the head or slight bow is sufficient. Hugging and kissing when greeting are uncommon.
§ Business cards are often exchanged, and yours should be printed in your own language and in Chinese. Also, it is more respectful to present your card (or a gift or any other article) using both hands. § The Chinese are enthusiastic applauders. You may be greeted with group clapping, even by small children. When a person is applauded in this fashion it is the custom for that person to return the applause or a "thank you."
§ When walking in public places, direct eye contact and staring is uncommon in the larger cities, especially in those areas accustomed to foreign visitors. However, in smaller communities, visitors may be the subject of much curiosity and therefore you may notice some stares.

TOUCHING GESTURES
§ Generally speaking, the Chinese are not a touch-oriented society (especially true for visitors). So avoid touching or any prolonged form of body contact.
§ Public displays of affection are very rare. On the other hand, you may note people of the same sex walking hand-in-hand, which is simply a gesture of friendship.
§ Don't worry about a bit of pushing and shoving in stores or when groups board public buses or trains. Apologies are neither offered or expected.
§ Personal space is much less in China. The Chinese will stand much closer than Westerners.

BECKONING GESTURES
§ To beckon someone, the palm faces downward and the fingers are moved in a scratching motion. Avoid use the index finger, palm up and toward you, in a back forth curling motion toward your body. That gesture is used only for animals and can be considered rude.
§ The open hand is used for pointing (not just one or two fingers,)
§ Also, avoid using your feet to gesture or to move or touch other objects because the feet are considered lowly and dirty.

OTHER NONVERBAL GESTURES
§ Avoid being physically intimidating (be humble), especially with older or more senior people.
§ Posture is important, so don't slouch or put your feet on desks or chairs.
§ Silence is perfectly acceptable and customary. Silence (listening) is a sign of politeness and of contemplation. During conversations, be especially careful about interrupting.
§ Chinese like to avoid saying "no." A gesture that is often used to signal "no" or that "something is very difficult" (pausing to rethink) is to tip the head backward and audibly suck air in through the teeth.
§ On public streets, spitting and blowing the nose without the benefit of a handkerchief is fairly common, although the government is waging a campaign to reduce this in the cities. It used to be regarded as ridding the body of a waste- an act of personal hygiene . However, today it is a sign of "low" class or uneducated.

Japan

In summary, for most visitors the Japanese are complex and difficult to understand. Remember two things: (1) style, or the way things are done, is just as important as substance, or what is being done; and (2) watch your Japanese hosts carefully and follow their example.

GREETING GESTURES
§ The graceful act of bowing is the traditional greeting.
§ However, they have also adopted the western custom of shaking hands, albeit with a light grip and perhaps with eyes averted. Meanwhile, to show respect for their customs, it would flatter them to offer a slight bow when being introduced.
§ Avoid hugging and kissing when greeting.
§ It is considered rude to stare. Prolonged direct eye contact is considered impolite or even intimidating.
§ It is considered rude to stand with your hand or hands in your pockets, especially when greeting someone or when addressing a group of people.
§ The seemingly simple act of exchanging business cards is more complex in japn becuae the business card represents not only one's identity but one's station in life. Yours should be printed in your own language and in Japanese.

TOUCHING GESTURES
§ The Japanese are not a touch-oriented society, so avoid open displays of affection, touching or any prolonged form of body contact.
§ Queues are generally respected; it is only in crowded train and subway stations where the huge volume of people causes touching and pushing.

BECKONING GESTURES
§ It is considered insulting to point to someone fingers extended and the thumb folded into the palm.
§ To beckon someone, the palm faces downward and the fingers are moved in a scratching motion.

Philippines

GREETING GESTURES
§ Handshaking is the common custom, with both men and women shaking hands in a friendly and informal fashion.
§ Filipinos may greet one another with the "eyebrow flash" which is merely a quick lifting of the eyebrows.

TOUCHING GESTURES
§ Generally speaking, the Filipinos are a touch-oriented society.
§ People of the same sex may be seen holding hands in public places, which is simply a gesture of friendship.
§ Don't worry about a bit of pushing and shoving when using public transportation, Filipinos seldom queue or observe orderly lines.

BECKONING GESTURES
§ Instead of pointing to an object , Filipinos will shift their eyes toward it, or purse the lips and point with the mouth.
§ To beckon someone, the palm faces downward and the fingers are moved in a scratching motion. Never curl your index finger back and forth because that is considered insulting.

OTHER NONVERBAL GESTURES
§ It is considered rude to stare. Prolonged direct eye contact is considered impolite and even intimidating.
§ Respect is always shown to elderly people.
§ Among the Filipinos, laugher is used to convey both enjoyment and pleasure but also to mask embarrassment over another person's misfortune.
§ Speaking in aloud voice is considered ill-mannered and rude.

Taiwan

GREETING GESTURES
§ The western custom of shaking hands is spreading rapidly and is now probably the customary form of greeting, but often a nod of the head is sufficient. Hugging and kissing when greeting are uncommon.
§ Repeatedly blinking the eyes at someone is considered impolite.
§ Business cards are often exchanged, but it is considered impolite to "scrutinize" card in their presence; place it near you for reference rather than quickly putting it aside or in your pocket. Also it is more respectful to present your card (or a gift or any other article) using both hands.
§ One gesture of special respect for the elderly is to cover your left fist with your right hand or place palms together, and raise both hands to your heart.

TOUCHING GESTURES
§ Generally speaking, The Taiwanese are not a touch-oriented society.
§ Public displays of affection are very rare. On the other hand, you may note people of the same sex walking hand-in hand, which is simply a gesture of friendship.

BECKONING GESTURES
§ The open hand is used for pointing (not just one or two fingers).
§ To beckon someone. the palm faces downward and the fingers are moved in a scratching motion. Never use the index finger, palm up and toward you, in a back and forth curling motion toward your body. That gesture is used only for animals.
§ Also, avoid using your feet to gesture or move or touch other objects because the feet are considered lowly and dirty.

NONVERBAL GESTURES
§ Great respect is afforded the elderly, so it is important to let your actions reflect this. Speak to them first, hold doors open for them, rise when they enter a room, give up your seat if no others are available, remove glasses (especially sunglasses) when addressing them, etc.
§ Posture is important, so don't slouch or put your feet on desks or chairs.
§ The gesture to indicate "no" is to lift your hand to face level, palm facing outward, and moving it back and forth like a windshield wiper, sometimes with a smile.
§ Loud, boisterous, or rude behavior is a strong taboo in Taiwan, however loudness may be accepted in restaurants.

American Gestures

COMMON GESTURES
1. Americans are a not touch (touch/not touch) oriented.
2. In normal social situations, Americans generally stand about 30 inches apart from one another, which is also considered their personal "comfort zone."
3. At sporting events or the theater, Americans usually slide into a crowded aisle while facing forward (forward/the people).

Gesture & Meaning
§ Americans shake hands, and from an early age they are taught to do so with a firm solid grip - When greeting one another.
§ American children are taught to look others directly in the eyes -- When greeting and conversing. If not, means shyness or weakness.
§ Arm raised and the open hand "waggles" back and forth -- Signaling "hello" or "good-bye." Or trying to get someone's attention.
§ Americans will often wave to another person and then turn to make hand scoop inward; or raise the index finger ) palm toward one's face, and make a "curling " motion with that finger. -- To beckon or summon another person.
§ Palm facing out with the index and middle fingers displayed in the shape of a "V." -- "Victory" or "peace."
§ Thumb and forefinger form a circle with the other three fingers splayed upward; it is used frequently and enthusiastically. -- "O.K." meaning "fine" or "yes."
§ Thumb up with a close fist. -- Meaning support or approval, "O.K." or "Good Going!" or "Good job!"
§ Fist raised with index finger and little finger extended. -- Texas rallying call "hook 'em horns." Baseball meaning "two outs."
§ Whistling -- Pretty woman, cheering at sporting events, applauding performances.
§ Nodding and shaking the head. -- Yes and No
§ Extend the forefinger and make a circular motion near the temple or ear. -- Something or someone is "crazy."

RIGHT, WRONG, OR RUDE
§ Handshake - Although generally adopted around the world. Southeast Asians press together; Japanese bow; Middle Easterners and many Asians favor a gently grip.
§ DIRECT EYE CONTACT - Asians, Puerto Ricans, West Indians, African American, Native Americans considered it to be rude, or disrespectful, or intimidating, or may indicate sexual overtones.
§ WAVING - "No" to most Europeans. Europeans raise the arm and "Bob" the hand up and down at the wrist."
§ BECKONING - Europeans and Asians raise the arm, palm facing down, and make a scratching motion with fingers. In Australia and in Indonesia, curling the index finger is used for beckoning animals.
§ "V" FOR VICTORY--In England, palm facing inward toward the face is an obscene gesture.
§ THE O.K GESTURE--In France it means zero. In Japan it means money or coins. In Brazil, Germany, and the former USSR., it is obscene gesture.
§ THUMBS UP --Also used for hitch-hiking in American. In Nigeria a rude gesture. In Australia, if pumped up and down is an obscene gesture. In Germany and Japan, the signal for "one."
§ WHISTLING--Throughout Europe, whistling at public events is a signal of disapproval, even derision.
§ NODDING AND SHAKING HEAD--Opposite meaning in Bulgaria, parts of Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, and Bengal.
§ CRAZY-- In Argentina, "you have telephone call."

UNIVERSAL HAND GESTURES

MEANING & HAND GESTURE
§ I am tired. -- Pressing the palms together and resting the head on the back of the hand while closing the eyes as if sleeping.
§ I am hungry. -- patting the stomach with the hands
After eating, I am full. -- taking the hand and making a circular motion over the stomach.
§ I am thirsty. -- Using the hand and making a circular motion over the stomach.
§ I am cold, or it's cozy or a sign of eager anticipation. -- rubbing the hands together.


Last edited by Vitali on Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:03 am; edited 1 time in total

 
MatC
156438.  Wed Mar 14, 2007 7:50 am Reply with quote

Quote:
§ I am cold, or it's cozy or a sign of eager anticipation. -- rubbing the hands together

I’ve always found that baffling - that two such very different feelings should be communicated by the same gesture.

 
MatC
158256.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:44 am Reply with quote

Something else that’s always puzzled me - why do people bite or chew their fingernails when they’re nervous? I was watching the world cup highlights the other night, and saw a whole balcony of players and coaches doing just that. It looked involuntary. Is there some mileage in exploring proffered explanations of various bits of body language?

 
ryewacket
158307.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:27 am Reply with quote

I don't know, but I would guess (and it's a very personal one) that it's for the same reason that octopuses in captivity bite their own arms down into stumps and that zoo animals develop 'psychotic' behaviour.

Civilisation is, let us be fair, a form of captivity. No wonder big hairless monkeys develop things like OCD.

 
MatC
158327.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:03 am Reply with quote

It's a form of self-harming, you mean?

 
ryewacket
158330.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:06 am Reply with quote

A mild form. Like trichotillomania.

Just my opinion though. So totally worthless for research purposes.

 
MatC
158334.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:12 am Reply with quote

Very interesting idea, that. Makes sense to me. In the absence of any other explanation, I hereby adopt it.

 
ryewacket
158338.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:19 am Reply with quote

It's always made sense to me. Instinctively, rather than rationally. I'd like to look further into it but don't really have the wherewithal.

I'd be interested to hear Grey's take on this.

 
Vitali
158932.  Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:41 pm Reply with quote

An interesting piece re: a new sign language - from The Guardian:

"Let your fingers do the talking

If you don't understand Makaton, you could soon be in the minority. Although created in the 1970s as a communications system for people with learning disabilities and speech disorders, Makaton's combination of signs, gestures and printed symbols is now taught in many primary schools to spur the development of language in children. It's official: talking with your hands is good for you.
A charity called the Makaton Vocabulary Development Project organises training and controls the trademark, but Makaton's foremost proponent at present is Mr Tumble, the star of Something Special, a children's programme on the BBC channel CBeebies. Something Special is primarily aimed at children with learning disabilities, but its widespread popularity has made Makaton familiar to most of Britain's under-fives.
Margaret Walker, who devised Makaton with Kathy Johnston and Tony Cornforth (the name comes from the first syllables of their first names) is keen to stress that the system should not be described as a sign language. "People in the deaf world would be very distressed," she says. Although Makaton's signs are derived from British Sign Language (or the local sign language of the nation in question - it's used in more than 40 countries), they are primarily intended to reinforce the spoken and written word. In the early years, only key words are signed (car, house, hello, food), but as a child develops, Makaton can stretch to all the words in a sentence, and even grammar.
Even if you have never heard of Makaton, you may have already seen it. The printed symbols - mostly simple cartoons featuring stick figures - are intuitive enough that they are now used in hospitals, law courts and historic buildings to help people who can't read English, or read at all, find their way.

Tim Dowling
Tuesday March 20, 2007
The Guardian

Examples of Makaton:
"Hello" - a waving sign at shoulder height
"Food" - tap lips twicw with emphasis

 
Jenny
158945.  Thu Mar 22, 2007 1:00 pm Reply with quote

Baby signing is very trendy at the moment.

 
Gray
159096.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 5:13 am Reply with quote

Little Jo's nursery are teaching it to her, so you can imagine her frustration when she waves a cryptic sign at us as we just go 'that's nice, dear'.

I've also wondered why people (including me) bite their nails. I'll look into it...

 
Gray
159098.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 5:19 am Reply with quote

The clinical name for nail biting is chronic onychophagia.

http://www.onychophagia.com/ (pretty crappy site)

Short answer: it's stress, although nobody seems to understand why it's the fingers that bear the brunt. I guess they're just there, and we probably naturally want to eat when stressed (so we have enough energy to fight).

Quote:
Also, small amounts of the anti-psychotics used to treat schizophrenia such as risperidone, olazapine, quetiapine, ziprasidone, and aripiprazole can be used to augment anti-depressants. It is important to note that the use of anti-psychotics to treat nail biting does not necessarily indicate that the patient is suffering from psychosis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nail_biting

 
MatC
159119.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 5:55 am Reply with quote

Quote:
It is important to note that the use of anti-psychotics to treat nail biting does not necessarily indicate that the patient is suffering from psychosis


No, but the doctor is ...

 
ryewacket
159122.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:00 am Reply with quote

Quote:
although nobody seems to understand why it's the fingers that bear the brunt.


Prob because we can get them in our mouths.

What are possible evolutionary explanations for other forms of self-harm? Is trichotillowhatsit a form of neurotic grooming? This is something I've never seen discussed.

 
ryewacket
159128.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:08 am Reply with quote

And, at the risk of banging a drum, what of those who do not instinctively understand expressions and gestures?

Quote:
Autscape [...] was the first conference in Britain organised by and for people with autism, a process described by the organisers as 'like herding cats'. The media stereotypes I carried with me were three: the once-cuddly toddler now screaming and unreachable, lost to his distraught parents; Dustin Hoffman's incompetent but endearing genius calculator in Rainman; and the shamelessly inquisitive, literal-minded adolescent in Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

None of them prepared me for the real world of autism; immediately I was struck by the badges they all wore. In place of the impersonal, minimally revealing badges of 'normal' conferences, these were raw shouts from the heart. There were three options. Red meant: 'Do not approach me. I do not wish to socialise with anyone.' Yellow said: 'Do not approach unless I have already told you that you may approach me while I am wearing a yellow badge.' Green declared: 'I would like to socialise, but I have difficulty in initiating. Please feel free to approach.'


http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,1639392,00.html

 

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